Hi Fellow TAC15 / 15i Owners.
I thought it might be nice for somebody to publish some of the general information about these crossbows and arrows that seems to have missed publication in all of the literature that gets put out by both the manufacturer and any of the forums that I've seen.
That said, I thought this might be a good starting point, so I'll attempt to provide some of the key missing information that I've collected and possibly the rest of you can fill in any additional details that I don't have listed in this thread.
Let's start with the TAC15 Arrows -
The standard field points are size 11/32, 85 grain points and are sold by either Saunders or Easton Archery. PSE Engineers recommend the use of this weight point to minimize flight problems. The more weight you add to the front end of your TAC shafts, the more you will magnify flight anomalies.
TAC15 Arrow Vanes - PSE is using the 3" "Norway" Dynavane 3-D series. The vane is a low profile (.43") vane and is highly rated and very stable. Available in several different colors available from any Dynavane distributor.
To re-fletch or replace these vanes requires a Bitzenburger Fletching Jig with a special Nock Receiver to support a four fletch vane arrangement. The Vane spacing is 60 degrees x 120 degrees. This is achieved by the special NOCK Receiver that I mentioned. The NOCK Receiver can be ordered directly from Bitzenburger and the product number is: #3012. The price of the receiver with shipping is about $15. If you don't own a Bitzenburger Arrow Fletching Jig you can purchase one direct from the manufacturer with this receiver already installed as long as you request it that way when ordering.
You will need a very good glue to insure that your vanes will remain bonded to your carbon arrow shafts. This was an early problem that PSE was having, but I believe they have worked out most of these issues. I would strongly recommend the use of the best carbon shaft glue you can afford. I use AAE Maxbond Glue in a .7 oz. bottle. I've had no problems with vanes coming off any of my arrows. I place an extra drop of glue where my vanes meet my arrow shaft on the front of the vane and on the rear. This creates a smooth ramp between the vane and shaft and adds additional bonding at the lift points.
I've heard a number of people asking if anybody was using the new Areo II vanes in a two vane configuration? For those who wish to experiment with these alternate configurations there is a very well done forum article I could direct you to that was produced on this subject. The net of it was that after a lot of trial and error it was determined that for the TAC15's there were only two vane manufactures and configurations that seemed to achieve good, tight groups. One was the stock PSE Dynavane configuration and the other was the two vane Areo II configuration. The Areo II produced a 1/2" better group at 50 yards than the 4 fletch Dynavane when using 100 grain mechanical broadheads. Otherwise their was no vane or configuration that outperformed the manufactures configuration with 85 grain field points.
For the PSE TAC 15/15i crossbows, PSE provides instructions for set up and possibly paper tuning, but not much more. I've found that a bit more is required if you want to get the most accuracy out of you crossbow.
The stock trigger systems are considerably to heavy (over 8lbs.) and have way to much trigger creep for my liking. This will cause a certain degree of inaccuracy for most shooters. Either the "Timney" single stage trigger in a 3lb. or the Jewel two stage trigger in a 3lb. are both excellent choices. I personally use and recommend the Timney because it requires no gunsmithing and is very easy to install. It's crisp with no creep at all. Len Backus sells both, so it's your choice as to weather you like a two stage trigger or a single stage.
Squaring the crossbow to the stock is another undocumented concern. If all you did was assemble the crossbow as per the instructions, but never used a level to insure the bow was leveled and square to the stock then you could very likely have a problem that will effect your windage. The longer the shot, the more your windage will drift off center.
If you place your crossbow on a level surface and place a good level in the center of your stock, then adjust the height of the front or back until you are perfectly level. Now place your level across the metal frame of your bow and check to see if the limbs are registering perfectly level. If not, loosen the bolts that lock the bow to the Stock and place a thin shim of very fine moleskin or similar material and lock the bolts back in place until everything is tight and a perfect level is achieved. You must also insure that your scope is accurately leveled to the bow, so that both are at the exact same level to one another. Once this has been completed you can go paper tune your arrows to insure the string loop is centered in the correct position.
I would highly recommend you obtain and place a bubble level of some type on your crossbow to prevent shooting when the unit is canted. Any amount of canting will cause a deviation in windage. The longer the distance the greater the deviation. It's very difficult to gauge how far off level you are on different types of terrain or from up in a tree when hunting, so the bubble will help you avoid these problems. I know Len carries and sells these things, so he can talk to the problem or the fix. Most archers know this from shooting their compound bows.
If you are planning on achieving ultra accuracy at long distances over 60 yards, the HHA Optimizer is the ticket. It won't help unless you've completed the steps I've outlined above, but if you have, then you should be good out to 100 yards or more.
In another thread I will describe a way to use the HHA Optimizer so you can use different power settings on your variable power scope and not ruin your tape settings. This is probably not important unless you are planning on shooting distances over 60 yards.
When installing the HHA Optimizer on your crossbow, you will likely run into a problem with your crank handle being just a bit to short, so the crank will now hit the speed dial adjustment knob on the HHA Optimizer. The socket on the end of your PSE Crank Handle is a standard "Proto" 1/4" socket that is pressed onto the crank handle shaft. The simplest way to get around the problem is to go to Sears o your local hardware store and pick up a 1/4" socket extension. It will add about 1 1/4" of length to the crank. Better still would be if you could purchase a deep dish version of the same Proto 1/4" socket and simply replace the standard socket with a deep dish, since this would only add 3/4" to your crank handle.
I should caution that PSE does not agree with this solution due to the fact that they've received two crossbows back that had bearing problems on the crank due to the extension adding to much torque to the handle and crank mechanism. As of two weeks ago, they are working on a new solution to the problem, but they won't say what it is or when they plan on having it available. The likelihood is they'll release a new version of the crank handle for sale on their website. My suggestion is to use the above solution and just be careful not to use excessive force to apply more torque than is necessary to load your crossbow, when cranking your bow back.
Please give me your feedback on weather this information was helpful and what other types of information you might want. I certainly don't have all of it, but collectively we might get a great deal more than we have now.
You are more than welcome. I'll post additional information as it becomes available, but I am really hoping that some of our other TAC15 owners can add some of their own input to help fill this thread out.
I've heard many shooters talk about the fact that these crossbows are extremely accurate, but each arrow seems to be an individual. That means that as soon as they change to shooting a different arrow, they get different flight characteristics.
This is usually only caused due to a variation in either weight or spine differences. My strong suspicion is that it's due to a spine problem. If PSE is not using a spine tester before fletching these arrow shafts, it's likely that they are applying vanes to all different places on the circumference of the arrow shaft.
Normally, one would mark the stiff side of the arrow spine and then insure that all vanes were placed in precisely the same place so that the stiff side of the spine was the same from arrow to arrow. My guess is that PSE is not using a spine tester for carbon arrows or the are not aligning the spines during the fletching process. This would cause exactly the behavior pattern that these arrows are exhibiting. Somewhere in the next few weeks, I will prove out this theory by taking my arrows into a place that has a spine tester for graphite arrows and testing them against the placement of the vanes.
It seems with all the testing going on out there, nobody has even looked at this aspect of arrow flight and it's always critical to competition archers with compound bows, so why are we overlooking it with high speed crossbows?
It does seem that spine testing should be done on the arrows in the manufacture as you describe. Maybe PSE could use this note in their suggestion box. I'll keep it in mind for when they are a little less busy.
Please forgive my completely new-person questions, but:
1. Is there a way to use a spine tester & then replace the vanes accordingly for consistent accuracy?
2. Is the "fletching jig" used for this? Does this device put the grooves in?
3. If so, with more or less grooves for each arrow, would there still be variation?
4. Can old grooves be filled?
For myself (as all I am sure) I would be really interested in having consistently-built arrows -- even if I have to make them that way, myself.
Truly valuable information you've provided. I am really looking forward to your results in where the vanes are actually placed in relation to the spines!
I think I remember Super91 (who posted the video of the Firenocks in another thread here) made mention of using a spine tester on the Tac arrows on another forum. I don't know if he has one or to what extent he made use of it.
I think I'd like to have one for my own use, but don't know where to buy one or what the cost might be.
It seems to me some manufacturers (PSE in this instance) are missing the boat with their QC. It would be a great help to have all arrows marked so they could all be refletched the same to maintain consistency. Especially with the Tac bows!
I shoot a Tac 15 with a DPMS lower. I didn't know anything about the tuning tips mentioned in this thread when I got my bow, but, I sure will go thru the whole setup again as soon as weather permits!